Derek Prince - There's Very Little Outward Difference Between True And False Believers
This is an excerpt from: True and False Christ - Part 1
I want, therefore, to take a few moments to point out some of the main feature of the period before the close of the age which particularly open the way for the manifestation of antichrists. First of all, I'd like to turn to Matthew 13:29-30. This is the chapter of the parables of the kingdom of God. This chapter contains the seven parables of the kingdom of God. And one of the main parables is the parable of the wheat and the tares. I'm sure it's familiar to most people. It speaks about a farmer who sowed his field with good wheat but at night when nobody was watching an enemy came and deliberately sowed tares. I'm not an agricultural expert, but I understand that tares are weeds that are very closely similar to wheat, at least in their early stages of growth.
And so, according to the parable, when the servants woke up in the morning they found the tares growing with the wheat. I think the whole is a picture of what we would call Christendom or the kingdom of God. So, we find wheat that brings forth the appropriate fruit and tares that look like wheat, but don't bring forth any fruit. In the parable the servants of the landowner said, 'Shall we go out and pull up the tares?' And I'll give you the answer that's recorded here in verse 29: "The landowner said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.'" That indicates that there's very little to distinguish between the wheat and the tares. Even people working in the field could easily have pulled up wheat imagining it was to be a tare.
In other words, there's very little outward difference between the true fruit producing believers and the ones who claim to be believers, but don't produce fruit. The whole is a picture not of the unbelieving world but of what Jesus calls the kingdom of God or, what we would call Christendom. Then Jesus gives God's program for dealing with the tares. He says: 'Let both grow together [that's wheat and the tares] until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers first gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.' Now, in the interpretation of the parable Jesus says the reapers in this context are the angels. So, it's too difficult a job for human beings to sort out the tares from the wheat.
So, Jesus said that's not your problem. Leave that to me and the angels. When the time comes, I will deal with it. I think that's important because so often in our zeal, if we have any function in the body of Christ, we might say, well, let's get rid of the tares. I mean, sometimes it's very provoking to be dealing with people who claim to be Christians and don't appear to bring forth any fruit. You might think the answer is get them out of the church. But that's not the answer. We have to be patient. We have to tolerate the fact that amongst the wheat there are some tares. Our main responsibility is to make sure that I personally am wheat and not a tare.
I used to teach students in Africa and Kenya years ago. My real aim was to bring them to the Lord. They had certain standard objections which they used as excuses for rejecting the gospel. One of them was there are too many hypocrites in the church. Well, my answer was the New Testament indicates very plainly there are going to be hypocrites in the church so, if there were no hypocrites in the church the New Testament wouldn't be true. The fact that there are hypocrites in the church indicates the New Testament is true and therefore, you ought to believe it. Only just make sure that you're not a hypocrite yourself. So here we have a situation and I personally have to say frankly I believe it applies to contemporary Christendom all over the world where we have wheat and tares growing side by side.
And it's not our business to eliminate the tares. Our responsibility is to make sure that we are wheat. But, the interesting thing if you look at it from a natural point of view is the same climate that is needed to ripen the wheat ripens the tares also. So, if you want the wheat to ripen you've got to be prepared to accept that the tares are ripening along with them. You can't have one without the other. I believe that's true of the age in which we live. If I were to choose one single word to describe the climate which ripens both the wheat and the tares, it would be permissiveness. Which, I have lived long enough to know, is an amazing feature of the period following World War II. Those of you that weren't alive and kicking before World War II have no way of knowing how different Britain is from what it used to be.
If people had told me when I was a boy of about 12 what it would be like in Britain after World War II, I could not have believed them. The whole climate has totally changed and, as I said, the word I would use is permissiveness. Basically, you can get away with anything today somewhere. That's true in the world, it's also true in the church. You see, people can do things in church now they never could have done 50 years ago. Clapping your hands? Unheard of. I remember going into a Pentecostal meeting in 1941 and the people were clapping their hands. I was horrified. And then they sang from red hymn books. And then they repeated the choruses.
I never heard of choruses before that. That was just a little part of it. The man who was the preacher had been a taxi driver before he became a preacher and he was telling the story of David the shepherd boy and King Saul. He was one of those preachers who believed in making it really vivid so, he was conducting an imaginary dialogue between David and King Saul. So, when he was speaking in the character of David he would stand on the platform, and look up over a bench. When he was speaking in the character of King Saul he would stand on the bench and look at where he'd been when he was David.
I was just following this thing, I mean, I just came out of seven years at Cambridge University, I wasn't used to this kind of thing. While he was making an impassioned speech as King Saul, the bench collapsed and he fell to the ground with a loud thud! Well, you know, I thought this is just part of it all. Who knows where to draw the line in a place like this?
Since then, believe me, that was just very little compared to what we've seen. Dancing, I mean, really, there's practically no limit to what people do somewhere. I'm not against any of these things, I'm just pointing out that it used not to be that way. The climate has changed. It's changed in the world but it's also changed in the church. And really, it's a test of our motives because if you want to do evil things there's very little to restrain you. And if you want to do good things and obey the scripture you can do it. There's freedom for both the wheat and the tares. That's the climate in which we're coming to the close of this age.